Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, OA begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness. OA commonly affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips, and spine. Other joints affected less frequently include the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles. When OA is found in a less-frequently affected joint, there is usually a history of injury or unusual stress to that joint. Work-related repetitive injury and physical trauma may contribute to the development of OA.
The most common symptoms of OA include, Steady or intermittent pain in a joint, Stiffness after periods of inactivity, such as sleeping or sitting. Swelling or tenderness in 1 or more joints. Crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone (called crepitus) when the joint is used.
Although OA can occur in any joint, it commonly occurs in the knees which are primary weight-bearing joints; therefore they are very commonly affected by OA. They may be stiff, swollen, and painful, making it hard to walk. OA in the hip can cause pain, stiffness, and severe disability. This can lead to difficulty moving, bending, and walking.
Osteoarthritis is known as "wear and tear," this stress can erode the cartilage that normally encases the ends of the bones in a joint. Cartilage serves to cushion the bones and to help the joint move smoothly and easily.
As cartilage breaks down, the ends of the bones thicken and the joint may lose its normal shape. With further cartilage breakdown, the ends of the bones may begin to rub together causing pain. In addition, damaged joint tissue can cause the release of certain substances called prostaglandins, which can also contribute to the pain and swelling characteristic of the disease.
Some common factors which predispose a patient to OA include things such as age, weight, and joint alignment. In patients predisposed to arthritis because of poor joint alignment a podiatrist can help by assessing the patients gait and where appropriate prescribing custom made Orthotics, these can help patients with knees that are starting to suffer from arthritis.





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Page last updated 14 October, 2007